Genetic relationship in the “Bacillus cereus group” by rep-PCR fingerprinting and sequencing of a Bacillus anthracis-specific rep-PCR fragment
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AIMS: To evaluate the genetic relationship in the Bacillus cereus group by rep-PCR fingerprinting. METHODS AND RESULTS: A collection of 112 strains of the six species of the B. cereus group was analysed by rep-PCR fingerprinting using the BOX-A1R primer. A relative genetic distinctness was found among the species. Cluster analysis of the rep-PCR patterns showed clusters of B. thuringiensis strains quite separate from those of B. cereus strains. The B. anthracis strains represented an independent lineage in a B. cereus cluster. The B. mycoides, B. pseudomycoides and B. weihenstephanensis strains were clustered into three groups at some distance from the other species. Comparison of sequences of AC-390, a typical B. anthracis rep-PCR fragment, from 27 strains of B. anthracis, B. cereus, B. thuringiensis and B. weihenstephanensis, representative of different clusters identified by rep-PCR fingerprinting, confirmed that B. anthracis diverges from its related species. CONCLUSIONS: The genetic relationship deduced from the rep-PCR patterns indicates a relatively clear separation of the six species, suggesting that they can indeed be considered as separate units. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: rep-PCR fingerprinting can make a contribution in the clarification of the genetic relationships between the species of the B. cereus group.
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